French Post-War Social Theory: International Knowledge Transfer

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Derek Robbins

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  • Theory, Culture & Society

    Theory, Culture & Society caters for the resurgence of interest in culture within contemporary social science and the humanities. Building on the heritage of classical social theory, the book series examines ways in which this tradition has been reshaped by a new generation of theorists. It also publishes theoretically informed analyses of everyday life, popular culture, and new intellectual movements.

    EDITOR: Mike Featherstone, Nottingham Trent University

    SERIES EDITORIAL BOARD

    Roy Boyne, University of Durham

    Nicholas Gane, University of York

    Scott Lash, Goldsmiths College, University of London

    Roland Robertson, University of Aberdeen

    Couze Venn, Nottingham Trent University

    THE TCS CENTRE

    The Theory, Culture & Society book series, the journals Theory, Culture & Society and Body & Society, and related conference, seminar and postgraduate programmes operate from the TCS Centre at NottinghamTrent University. For further details of the TCS Centre's activities please contact:

    The TCS Centre

    School of Arts and Humanities

    Nottingham Trent University

    Clifton Lane, Nottingham, NG11 8NS, UK

    e-mail: tcs@ntu.ac.uk

    web: http://sagepub.net/tcs/

    Recent volumes include:

    The Domestic Economy of the Soul

    John O'Neill

    Education and Cultural Citizenship

    Nick Stevenson

    Inhuman Nature

    Nigel Clark

    Intensive Culture

    Scott Lash

    Copyright

    View Copyright Page

    Dedication

    In memory of Pierre Bourdieu

    About the Author

    Derek Robbins is Professor of International Social Theory in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of East London. He is the author of The Work of Pierre Bourdieu (1991), Bourdieu and Culture (2000); and On Bourdieu, Education and Society (2006). He is the editor of a four-volume collection of articles on Bourdieu in the Sage Masters of Contemporary Social Thought series (2000) and of a three-volume collection of articles on Lyotard in the same series (2004). He was the editor of the special number of Theory, Culture and Society on Bourdieu, 23 (6), November 2006. In 2007–8 he was in receipt of an ESRC award to study the work of Jean-Claude Passeron, and he has written an introduction to a translation of Passeron's Le raisonnement sociologique which will be published in 2011/12 by Bardwell Press as Sociological Reasoning. As Directeur associé in the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris and Marseilles in 2009–10 he gave courses on the comparative epistemology of the social sciences, and he is currently exploring the influence of Husserl on twentieth-century French social theory, particularly in relation to the development of the thought of Lyotard and Bourdieu.

    Acknowledgements

    I have benefited in the writing of this book from discussions with PhD students in the School of Social Sciences, Media and Cultural Studies/School of Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of East London in the period from 2006 until the present, and from conversations with colleagues in the Group for the Study of International Social Science between 2002 and 2008, especially Bob Cannon, Giorgia Dona, Jon Griffith, Tim Hall, John McGovern, John Myles, Josephine Stein and Maria Tamboukou. In the early part of this period (2002–4), I benefited from cross-national discussions with English and French colleagues during the course of a Franco-British project funded jointly by the British Academy and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique on ‘Lévy-Bruhl between France and Great Britain’ which I co-directed with Dominique Merllié of the University of Paris VIII and the Centre de Sociologie Européenne, Paris.

    In England I have much appreciated the support and encouragement offered by Professor Bryan Turner and Dr Tim Jenkins. In France, I am grateful for the interest in my work shown by Jean-Louis Fabiani and, with him, to Emmanuel Pedler and Jean-Claude Passeron for their invitation to be a Directeur associé d’études at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris and Marseilles in 2009–10. This came about as a result of research which I carried out in 2007–8 on the work of Passeron, with the support of a grant from the ESRC.

    The staff of the Library and Resources Centre at UEL's Docklands campus have been helpful throughout the project and I would like particularly to thank Jan Fisk for keeping my Inter-Library Loan orders under control.

    Above all, I would like to acknowledge the patient guidance provided by Chris Rojek at SAGE, not just as a long-suffering commissioning editor but as a friend and colleague.

    Kant had himself come under the influence of Rousseau. In a famous autobiographical reflection from this period, found in the ‘Remarks on the Observations of the Beautiful and Sublime’ (‘Bemerkungen zu den Beobachtungen über das Gefühl des Schönen und Erhabenen’), he mused:

    I am myself by inclination a seeker after truth. I feel a consuming thirst for knowledge and a restless passion to advance in it, as well as a satisfaction in every forward step. There was a time when I thought that this alone could constitute the honor of mankind, and I despised the rabble who knows nothing. Rousseau set me right. This blind prejudice vanishes; I learn to respect human nature, and I should consider myself far more useless than the common laborer if I did not believe that this view could give worth to all others to establish the rights of man. (fn. 152)

    Fn. 152: Ak 20, p. 44. To get some idea of the background of his former view one should consult Wieland's ‘Platonische Betrachtungen über den Menschen’ (Platonic Meditations on Man) of 1755 (Wieland, Sämmtliche Werke, XIV, pp. 65–100). Wieland divides human beings into four classes, and only the class of speculative minds and those of genius have any real value. The other two classes are unfortunate because they are driven by their sensible nature alone.

    [Manfred Kuehn (2001) Kant: A Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 131–2, 458, reprinted with permission.]

  • Preliminary Concluding Comments

    While writing this book I tried unsuccessfully on one occasion to buy an Althusser text in the Dijon branch of the reputable chain of French bookshops, Gibert Joseph. ‘No one reads Althusser anymore’, I was told confidently by the assistant. When I have told French colleagues – admittedly ‘Bourdieusian’ colleagues – that many English research projects start from the positions taken by Foucault and, more currently, Deleuze, I have been greeted with wry surprise, as if it could be assumed that these positions, in France, have been superseded or discredited. It has been my intention to subject these kinds of perceptions of popularity or unpopularity to scrutiny, to embark on a process which might analyse socio-politically the grounds for fluctuations of intellectual modishness.

    Within the methodological limitations set out in the Introduction, my purpose has been to represent chronologically the history of the phenomenal facts of the French production and English reception of the main texts of Aron, Althusser, Foucault, Lyotard and Bourdieu in the period between 1945 and the present. This concentration on the transcultural transmission of texts is a prerequisite for, a necessary preliminary to, a sociological analysis, conducted comparatively, of the conditions of their production and reception. My intention is that, ultimately, this study of what Bourdieu called the ‘structured structures’ of the relatively autonomous ‘field’ of textual transfer may be read in tandem with a study of what he called the ‘structuring structures’ which constituted these texts and their fields (Bourdieu, 1977b; 1991: 163–70). The separation of the two studies is theoretically unsatisfactory. My hope is that it will be possible to juxtapose the two kinds of studies so as to elucidate the particular question of the relationship in social science or social theory between the content of texts, generated and disseminated within constituted and autonomous fields of institutionalised intellectual explanation, which are supposedly about social realities or social relations, and the substantial realities or relations themselves which, differentially between cultures, provide the conditions for auto-revelations which may, in fact, be sponsored forms of méconnaissance.1 As early as 1966, Bourdieu insisted, in ‘Champ intellectuel et projet créateur’ (Intellectual field and creative project) (1966; 1971), that ‘works’ should be understood as factors in the social ‘position-taking’ of authors and should be understood as the manifestations of the immanent, strategic sense of their own contexts developed by authors reciprocally in relation to their contexts. Inasmuch as present critics attempt to analyse historical ‘works’ sociologically in relation to their conditions of production, Bourdieu argued that it was necessary to factor in the extent to which these contextual analyses constructed the structural conditions of textual production as reifications which imposed the individual and institutional assumptions of the observing critics on the original practices. Just as he was later to suggest, in Esquisse d'une théorie de la pratique (Bourdieu, 1972) and Outline of a Theory of Practice (Bourdieu, 1977a), that anthropological research was excessively logocentric, so he argued, in 1966, that we read our own presuppositions back into historical situations and that these presuppositions relate to our immanent strategic intentions in the present. As I have tried to argue elsewhere,2 however, Bourdieu's early article failed to differentiate between kinds of works. It did not, or would not, distinguish epistemologically between the truth claims of scientific or artistic texts, assuming that both are similarly non-referential. Between the late 1960s and the publication of Homo Academicus in 1984 (Bourdieu, 1984; 1988), Bourdieu refined his conceptual apparatus. Homo Academicus deployed the findings of the sociological analysis that he had carried out in 1968 on Parisian intellectuals. In the interim (first of all in ‘Les stratégies de reconversion: Les classes sociales et le système d'enseignement’ (Strategies of reconversion: Social classes and the educational system), Bourdieu, Boltanski, and de Saint Martin, 1973; 1977), he had developed a framework for analysing the positiontaking of intellectuals within the academic field by reference to their deployment of different kinds of capital – social, cultural, economic and political – but he still did not go further to consider the validity of the various texts emanating from various authorial trajectories. As is well known, in the French text of Homo Academicus (1984) Bourdieu located graphically the situations of his colleagues and their institutions, charting the positions of categories rather than persons, whereas, for the English edition (1988), he wrote a Preface in which he named names and also added graphs which located individuals, including himself. In particular, the English Preface contains a discussion of the position of Roland Barthes and brief comments on the socio-political stances of Foucault and Althusser. Bourdieu was prepared to ‘relativise’ the objective account of the positions of colleagues within ‘fields’ and of the status of those fields by making it clear that it was an objectification of his subjective situation within his own constructed model, but he did not embark on an analysis of the implications of his relativisation for consideration of the legitimacy of the contents of the texts which were the products of divergent authorial situations. He was, of course, aware of the question of the autonomous potency of texts – anonymised and removed from association with the ‘griffe [label]’ of their authors – and he explored this to some extent in his ‘Décrire et prescrire’ (Description and prescription) (Bourdieu, 1981; 1991: 127–36), but he was disinclined to subject textual contents to analysis other than by assuming that they were inextricably linked to the social trajectories of their producers. Bourdieu's reflexivity in respect of his own production seemed to offer a relativising substitute for a relativist and objectivist sociology of the production of others. The Preface to Homo Academicus (1988) made it clear that the book should not be read as an objective account of French higher education but rather as a paradigmatic illustration of the way all ‘insider’ intellectuals should attempt, reflexively and objectively, to analyse their positions within their higher education systems.

    Although the English Preface offers a positive challenge to readers to conduct their own reflexive analyses, it is, as a consequence, self-effacingly discouraging in respect of its own account of the social conditions of French intellectual production. At the time of writing Homo Academicus, Bourdieu was particularly interested in the possibility that his sociological analyses might begin to acquire some political power – both as a result of his recent absorption of the ‘instituted capital’ of the Collège de France on his appointment to the Chair of Sociology there and as a result of the possible patronage of the newly elected President, François Mitterrand. Homo Academicus can be read as a book which is concerned to examine the sociopolitical conditions which make possible the production of texts which are effective in influencing socio-political action, as an analytical case study of the correlation between description and prescription. Commenting in the English Preface on the behaviour of the Director of the École Normale Supérieure during the May events of 1968, Bourdieu concluded that:

    This means that it is not, as is usually thought, political stances which determine people's stances on things academic, but their positions in the academic field which inform the stances that they adopt on political issues in general as well as on academic problems. The margin of autonomy which ultimately devolves to the specifically political sources of the productions of opinions then varies according to the degree to which the interests directly associated with their position in the academic field are directly concerned or, in the case of the dominant agents, threatened. (1988: xvii–xviii)

    Bourdieu was restricting his analysis to the interrelations of positions or ‘stances’ within academic and political ‘fields’, but he immediately continued:

    But one could go further and reintroduce into the model not only the political stance but also the works themselves, considered in their most visibly social properties, like their genre or their place of publication, and in their topic as well as their form. (1988: xviii)

    My intention is that this book will ‘go further’ precisely in the way in which Bourdieu here intimates, but which, as far as I am aware, he did not systematically pursue. To date, I have in the recent past written a detailed account of the reciprocal relationship between my social and intellectual trajectory and, within that trajectory, my engagement with Bourdieu's trajectory as it developed in parallel in France (although, of course, not comparably either in terms of our ages – Bourdieu was born 14 years before myself – or in terms of our relative significance) (Robbins, 2006b). This was an essentially subjective response to the challenge issued by Bourdieu in the English Preface to Homo Academicus. My intention is to go further by indicating in detail the nature of the French social conditions which generated a sample of the diverse contributions which presented themselves to English readers as ‘French social thought’ in the second half of the twentieth century, and, equally, by analysing the social conditions in England which affected diverging receptions of French works. In this way, it will become possible to situate my already published autobiographical (auto-analytical?) account of my subjective engagement with the work of Bourdieu within a partial account of the structure of English possibilities of response. This will offer a vicarious and surrogate auto-analysis of the engagement of other English intellectuals with other French thinkers than Bourdieu. My hope is that the politico-philosophical significance of this endeavour will begin to become apparent at the end of this book.

    The comments which follow are preliminary in that, in summarising the trajectories of the texts of the five authors under consideration, they only suggest the kinds of sociological explanation of their fields of production and consumption which will need detailed justification. They are, however, also concluding comments in that they try to articulate latent connections or conflicts between works, or simple juxtapositions, as they appear to have emerged in my chronological narratives, without problematising – suspending disbelief – about the relative autonomy of intellectual fields. In this way, my discussion here aims to be ‘maieutic’,3 as Bourdieu described his intention in directing the project which led to the publication of La misère du monde (Bourdieu, 1993; 1999). Bourdieu and his team ‘interviewed’ people whose lives impinged on each other but who, in existing social conditions, were unlikely ever to converse with each other. The simultaneous publication of the transcripts of these interviews and of the contextualisations provided by the interviewers engineered a virtual encounter between respondents, mediated by the interviewers. The published text presented to the French public an encounter between respondents as social agents and social researchers as themselves agents, while, at the same time, the published book created mentally images of possible encounters between respondents which would be unlikely ever to be actualised. It transposed atomised interviews and projected a vision of possible solidarity to an extended field of consumers of intellectual goods. Similarly, many of the French social thinkers of the twentieth century were notoriously disinclined to engage with each other intellectually. When I invited Alain Touraine to speak at a conference which I organised about Bourdieu's work shortly after his death, Touraine politely declined on the grounds that he did not wish to have the dialogue after Bourdieu's death that he had never had when he was alive. There is the strong sense that the authors considered in this book were intent on ploughing their own furrows independently. It was as if all recognised that they were pursuing logically discrete strands of thought emanating from a common intellectual formation. There were, of course, exceptions. Aron attacked Althusser.4 There was one public dialogue between Aron and Foucault.5 There were some references to each other in the work of Bourdieu and Foucault.6 There is a sense, in other words, in Bourdieu's terms, that the five authors operated in the same, relatively autonomous, intellectual field, founded on the same relatively autonomous social distinction. It is this detached corporatism, this tacitly conserved minority consensus resisting disruptive majority dissensus, which needs further examination at present when the legitimacy of autonomous intellectual analyses is under threat in mass democracies. What follows, for the moment, however, is a maieutic narrative.

    Each chapter begins with a summary of the background to the authors prior to the publication of their texts in the post-1945 period. Although there was to be a period in which all five authors were contemporaneously producing new texts, these summaries highlight some of the difficulties involved in registering intergenerational progression alongside contemporaneity (diachronic and synchronic interpretation). Aron was already a student at the École Normale Supérieure before Lyotard, Foucault and Bourdieu were born. He grew up during the First World War. Whereas the École of a previous generation had generated the school of positivist sociology associated with Durkheim, Aron was one of a generation of normaliens attracted to German philosophy, a generation in which even ‘Durkheimians'sought to assimilate sociology to academic philosophy at the expense of its originary socialist and empirical impulses. Aron was old enough to choose a response to the German occupation of France in the first half of the 1940s – choosing to join the Free French in London. He began there to reconcile the philosophy of history which he had developed academically with the practice of engagement with the political present through journalism. Although he was born at the end of the First World War, Althusser was taken into captivity just before he was due to commence his studies at the École. His studies did not commence, therefore, until 1945, by which time he was 27. Younger than Althusser by eight years, Foucault commenced study at the École only one year later, having spent the war years in secondary education. Two years older than Foucault, Lyotard studied at the Sorbonne rather than the École and received his agrégation in 1950 – the year in which Foucault was unsuccessful at his first attempt at the competition (Eribon, 1992: 37). Like Foucault and Lyotard, Bourdieu passed the years of the Second World War in secondary education. He was admitted to the École in 1950.

    By the beginning of the 1945–60 period, therefore, we have five men at different stages of their careers who had, nevertheless, all received an education which emphasised the primacy of what the French system took to be ‘philosophy’, offered in Paris, the location to which they had all been centripetally drawn following their selection initially from the ‘cream’ of provincial lycée students. Aron and Lyotard came from the Parisian suburbs, while Althusser, Foucault and Bourdieu migrated from the provinces – Lyons, Poitiers and Pau, respectively. Apart from Lyotard, all studied at the École. One of the characteristics distinguishing French and English societies in the post-war period was that French society was intent on attempting to reconcile the re-establishment of constitutional government with acknowledgement of the ideologies which had motivated resistance movements, whereas English society was involved in no comparable self-examination. Aron was active internationally in contributing to analyses of the differences between market and state-controlled economies during the Cold War period, defending liberal systems of government against communist regimes while insisting also that liberalism should be subjected to constant scrutiny. He published attacks on ‘left-wing’ existentialism and accounts of the new constitution introduced by de Gaulle. He carried out these activities as a journalist for Le Figaro and as a prolific author, whose books were becoming known in English translation, as contributions both to a developing discipline of ‘international relations’ and to the transmission of a Weberian approach to sociological explanation. He was at times given positions of advisory responsibility by de Gaulle. It was only in 1955 that Aron returned to academia when he was appointed to the Chair of Sociology at the Sorbonne. He was largely responsible for establishing the discipline as an undergraduate degree course and his courses of lectures at the end of the 1950s served to define French sociology at the time while he also maintained his interest in political science. Althusser graduated from being a student to a member of staff at the École at the end of the 1940s. He joined the Communist Party in 1948 and tried to reconcile this move with his continuing allegiance to Catholicism, in part through the study of the work of Hegel which had been promoted by Aron's contemporary at the École, Jean Hyppolite. At the École, he was responsible for preparing students – including Foucault – for the agrégation examinations, and he offered courses on political philosophers, reflected in the publication of his first book – on Montesquieu – at the end of the decade. Like Althusser, Foucault resisted the normal practice whereby graduates of the École should initially teach in regional lycées. At the beginning of the 1950s, Foucault was briefly a member of the Communist Party (1950–1), also having gained his diplôme d’études supérieures for a study of Hegel under the supervision of Hyppolite. His trajectory from Catholic schooling to communism by way of Hegel under the influence of Hyppolite was seeming Althusserian, but he had gained a licence in psychology as well as philosophy and his earliest interests seemed to be in the history and practice of psychiatry. Not long after his first publications, however, he accepted the post of Director of the Maison de France in Uppsala. This job was followed by similar appointments as, virtually, a cultural attaché in Warsaw and Hamburg. These were ‘establishment’ jobs away from France and psychiatry which gave him the freedom to develop his original thinking in the writing of doctoral theses, the most important of which – Folie et Déraison – was to bring him immediate recognition. Meanwhile, Lyotard and Bourdieu had both accepted jobs in lycées – Lyotard at Constantine in Algeria from 1950 to 1952, and Bourdieu in Moulins from 1954 to 1956. Both taught philosophy. Lyotard returned to mainland France to continue teaching, also publishing his introduction to phenomenology in 1954 and acting as the contributor on Algerian affairs to the journal Socialisme ou Barbarie. Bourdieu was conscripted into the army in 1956, serving in Algeria for two years, and remaining there for a further two years in a post at the University of Algiers, when he wrote his first book and carried out the research for the next two.

    By very early in the 1960s, all five authors were back in Paris and active in different ways. The defining focal point for the decade, in France, was to be the student revolt of May 1968. Aron was at the height of his power and influence within the academic establishment, based on his philosophical orientation in the discussion of social, political and ideological trends. He had never undertaken any empirical sociological research but he established a research centre where research could be undertaken under his management. He appointed Bourdieu to be the first secretary of what was to be called the Centre de Sociologie Européenne. Throughout the decade, mainly in collaboration with Jean-Claude Passeron, Bourdieu undertook research projects on education and culture which, in part, followed an agenda set by Aron in that they explored the extent to which processes of social, educational and cultural ‘reproduction’ in societies could be thought to be independent of the ideologies of the political systems within which they are situated. At the École, Bourdieu had been influenced philosophically both by phenomenology and by the history and philosophy of science. He was to call his early research ‘fieldwork in philosophy’, by which he meant that he considered his empirical enquiries to be informed by philosophical problems without intending that they should contribute to the development of philosophical discourse. His exploration of the relations between culture and politics gradually led him to see political behaviour as a cultural phenomenon rather than to see cultural behaviour as conditioned by political systems. He was disposed to see the student revolt as a political action whereas Aron was inclined to see that it was action which subverted politics. Bourdieu's regret was that the student movement was a social movement of a privileged minority. Bourdieu took control of the Centre de Sociologie Européenne and his original mentor – Aron – preceded him in the Chair of Sociology at the Collège de France (in 1970). Meanwhile, Althusser's intellectual reputation was ascending rapidly. His attack at the beginning of the decade on Sartre's attempt to reconcile existentialism with dialectical materialism led Althusser to move towards an interpretation of Marx which demonstrated that his achievement was to overthrow Hegelian humanism and to renounce philosophies of mind and history cultivated in detachment from conditions of material progress. At first it seemed as if the courses on Marx published by Althusser and his followers were extensions of the analyses of political philosophy that Althusser had produced in the previous decade, but, by the end of the decade, Althusser was struggling to rectify this impression and to show that Marx had inaugurated a science of society which was neither philosophical nor sociological. These discourses were rejected as institutionalised, bourgeois ideologies. Althusser advanced his position from within the Communist Party, in communist journals and in books produced by communist publishers, rejecting, in opposition to Party leaders, Khrushchev's revisionism of Stalinism as humanist and conservative.

    Bourdieu (and Passeron) recognised the need to legitimate sociological explanation as ‘practice’ rather than as bourgeois mentalism. Without explicit reference to Althusser, they adopted an Althusserian position, without its Marxist base or its association with Communist Party policy, by seeking to situate their sociology as a ‘trade’ in opposition to patrician, humanist sociology, in their ‘Sociology and Philosophy in France since 1945’ (Bourdieu and Passeron, 1967) and in their Le métier de sociologue (Bourdieu, Chamboredon and Passeron, 1968). During the 1960s, Lyotard was relatively unproductive. His journalistic coverage of the Algerian War of Independence and its aftermath continued until 1963. Bourdieu had never embraced Marxism. His analysis on the ground of the changing social conditions underlying the political revolution led him to be sceptical of Marxist analyses related to consideration of the potential of the indigenous proletariat for revolution. Lyotard's observations caused him to be similarly sceptical. Lyotard's disaffection led him to become part of a group – Pouvoir Ouvrier (Worker Power) – which broke away from Socialisme ou Barbarie in 1964. By that year he had moved to the Sorbonne before moving on to the University of Nanterre where he was associated with the 1968 revolt but where he also worked on a thesis under the direction of Mikel Dufrenne, whose reputation was already established as a phenomenologist of artistic expression.

    As Professor-elect of Psychology at the institution, Foucault played some part in the Nanterre protests in June 1968. Commuting from Paris, he had taught at the University of Clermont-Ferrand since 1960, as Professor of Psychology from 1962. From 1966, he had spent two years on secondment as Professor of Philosophy at the University of Tunis. During the decade he had published work which continued his exploration of the conceptual and institutional suppression of ‘madness’ in the Enlightenment period. In part, he was seeking to extricate himself from the legacy of his training in psychology by introducing analysis in terms of the potential of non-referential language use and extending this to an opposition to ‘correspondence’ theories of knowledge. In this process, he found himself advancing socio-historical explanations which appeared to be ‘structuralist’, so much so that he then had to clarify that he rejected the way in which structuralism presupposed prior systems of thought analogous with de Saussure's ‘langue’ in linguistic theory.

    Serge Audier has asked whether Aron should be thought to be the ‘father of anti-68 discourse’ (Audier, 2008). All five authors found different paths in their careers as a consequence of the events which had removed de Gaulle from power but which, otherwise, had been the precursor for some intellectual reaction. In his new position at the Collège de France, Aron relegated his engagement with sociology and social theory to the background in his work and concentrated, instead, again, on politics and international relations, both in his publications and in his courses at the Collège. Ill-health slowed his productivity remarkably little at the end of the decade and he began to write memoirs which were a form of retrospective personal evaluation of the efficacy of his analyses of, and interventions in, political affairs. Foucault never took up his post at Nanterre but, instead, was appointed to the new post-68 Experimental University Institute at Vincennes. He remained there during its first tempestuous two years before being appointed to a newly designated Chair at the Collège de France. His posthumously published courses were offered under the same terms during the 1970s as those delivered by Aron. According to Eribon, Foucault's experience at Vincennes of police brutality against protesting students significantly radicalised him, causing him to be able to integrate the position which he had previously conceptualised as a consequence of scholarly research with observable facts of oppression and exclusion. Initially Foucault took the opportunity of his courses of lectures and seminars to extend further the bases in psycho-analytical thinking for the oppression which he found in his historical researches and which he also witnessed. However, this apparent reversion to some of his earliest work gave way to attempts at systematic consideration of classical Greek culture and of the suppression of its erotic liberty by the Christian tradition. Althusser spent the first half of the 1970s attempting to move beyond the analyses of Marx which had brought him recognition in the previous decade. Specifically, he sought to actualise in practice his theoretical argument that philosophical work should not be detached speculation. He tried to deconstruct his reputation as a ‘Marxist philosopher’, insisting that the corollary of his interpretation of Marx was that Marxist theory entailed an ongoing, constantly adapting, actualisation within conditions to which it applied and with which it interacted. There was always a dynamic and necessary dialectic between theory and practice in changing political conjunctures. However, Althusser's perception of the conjuncture within which he was situated was, increasingly, that of the future progress of the Communist Party. Although he criticised the basis on which the Communist Party began, at the end of the 1970s, to enter into electoral alliance with the Socialist Party – arguing that the Communist Party was becoming primarily concerned with its own unity rather than with its function in support of the working population, his critique and his perception of social reality were both circumscribed by an introverted discourse which did not accommodate empirical engagement with changing events. His conception of practice remained one which was pre-defined by a theory of praxis. Although Aron and Althusser were diametrically opposed ideologically, they shared an inclination to conceive political participation or political conjuncture in terms of pre-established, autonomously valid, ‘political’ events and actions. During the 1970s, by contrast, Bourdieu shook off this common assumption, shared by Aron and Althusser, while also accommodating aspects of the positions of his seniors. Bourdieu absorbed Aron's view that sociologists are historians of the present as well as Althusser's view that the social sciences are bourgeois ideologies. Bourdieu rejected Aron's Weberian view that a distinction should be maintained between the vocations of science and politics, insisting, instead, that the sociologist should be a reflexive practitioner. While, in the 1960s, Bourdieu had appeared to be on an intellectual journey from philosophy to social anthropology to sociology, in the 1970s, coinciding with the cessation of his collaboration with Passeron, Bourdieu resurrected his earlier interest in phenomenology so that he was able to treat intellectual discourses as constructs of the ‘natural’ sphere, all of which originated in the primary dispositions of inter-subjectively relating individuals in the ‘life-world’. In the work which, significantly, led to the English publication as Outline of a Theory of Practice(1977a) of a modified version of his Esquisse d'une théorie de la pratique (1972), Bourdieu used a commitment to pre-predicative inter-personal experientialism as a substitute for Althusser's a priori Marxist orientation, thereby achieving a similar scepticism about dominantly bourgeois social scientific explanations without needing to commit to the ideological and political implications of grounding that scepticism in a Marxist view of history. The work of Husserl also remained in the background in Lyotard's thinking during the 1970s. His Discours, figure of 1971 articulated his dissatisfaction with Merleau-Ponty's excessively cognitive response to Husserl. Whereas Bourdieu was beginning to emphasise the primacy of affectively stimulated agency, in relation to which cognitive explanation was secondary, Lyotard, instead, sought to liberate artistic activity as action sui generis from its traditionally oppressed position in subordination to controlling and neutralising rationality. Bourdieu refused to allow ‘art’ this kind of autonomy, wanting to regard it, as much as the sciences, as a socially constructed product of prior experience. Lyotard became a member of staff at Vincennes in 1970. The phenomenological aestheticism offered by Lyotard in Discours, figure was manifestly influenced by his association there with Deleuze. Lyotard's writings during most of the 1970s were attempts, going beyond the combined legacies of Marx and Freud, to articulate a libertarianism grounded in biological urges or impulses. He sought to release his own writing formally from oppressively regulative traditions as well as to celebrate practising artists, but, by the end of the decade, he found an institutional home, with several of his Vincennes colleagues, in the Collège internationale de philosophie which, in spite of its innovative mission statement, came to sponsor pioneering, but autonomous, philosophical reflection unconstrained by the traditional curriculum of university philosophy departments. Lyotard had already begun to articulate his thinking by reference to the work of Kant before he was commissioned to write the report on education which established his international reputation – La condition postmoderne, 1979.

    By 1970, other than many texts written by Aron, only Foucault's Madness and Civilisation had been published in English in England. During the 1970s, English publication ‘caught up’ with Foucault's French publications. In the first part of the decade, the English publisher was Tavistock Publications, consolidating Foucault's continuing association with the anti-psychiatry movement in spite of the increasing epistemological range of his enquiries. During the decade, Foucault began to spend time in North America and this began to be reflected in the nature of the English-language dissemination of his work, particularly in the role played by Dreyfus and Rabinow in reconciling his philosophical position with ‘California phenomenology’. Although Lyotard retained his association with Vincennes, he also spent time in North America. La condition postmoderne was commissioned in French-speaking Canada, and it was only subsequently that Lyotard's reputation developed in the English-speaking world. Aron was still active internationally and, in England, he was taken to be the representative of French sociology, a recognition which conveniently confirmed the resolutely non-Durkheimian tradition in English sociology reproduced by the post-war graduates in sociology from the London School of Economics (LSE). Althusser concerned himself with Europe and the situation of Eurocommunism. The translations of his texts into English during the 1970s appeared in England in mainly partisan contexts. Just as, in France, his work was published by Maspéro and Editions sociales, both arms of the Communist Party, so, in England, translations were published by New Left Books, the publishing house associated with the journal the New Left Review, founded in 1960, and in Marxism Today. One of the founding editors of the New Left Review, Stuart Hall, was party to the dissemination of Althusser's work, from his position as Director of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham from 1968 until 1979. The New Left political movement, associated with the rise of cultural studies, as distinct from the sociology of culture, was partly responsible for the non-re-election of the Labour government in 1970 as a result of the release of the May Day Manifesto (edited by Raymond Williams, 1969) which outlined a socialist agenda in opposition to the technocratic policies of Harold Wilson. After four years of Conservative government under Ted Heath, when Margaret Thatcher gained ministerial experience as Minister of Education, Wilson returned to power in 1974 and Labour remained in government until it was ousted by Mrs Thatcher in 1979. During these years, the work of Althusser was influential in the educational thought which flourished at the distance-learning institution established by Wilson in 1965 – The Open University. Texts published to support teacher training instruction barely distinguished between the work of Althusser and Bourdieu but, by the end of the decade, the reception of Bourdieu's thought shifted from the educational to the cultural field as a result of the translations of Les Héritiers and La reproduction produced by Richard Nice, a member of staff at the Birmingham Centre. Bourdieu's work of the 1960s was appropriated in England by both sociologists of education and sociologists of culture or cultural studies analysts unaware of the implications of the epistemological shift that Bourdieu was making contemporaneously in Esquisse. The English version of Esquisse, translated by Nice, was received in a separate disciplinary compartment (and published by a different publisher) as a contribution to social anthropological theory. It was significant that a Preface to the translation of La reproduction was written by Tom Bottomore, who was a Francophile, pro-Marxist Professor of Sociology at one of England's recently established ‘new’ universities – Sussex. Appropriation of the work of Bourdieu helped to challenge the domination of LSE sociology, but there was no awareness that the influence of Husserl was about to assist Bourdieu in advancing an alternative, non-Marxist critique of sociology and, at the same time, a critique of academicism, including Marxist academicism.

    Althusser's killing of his wife in 1980 sent shock waves through left-wing circles in France and England. Arguably, his political moment had been over by the end of the 1970s, to be confirmed by the election of Mitterrand as President, taken to bring about the eclipse of the Communist Party which followed necessarily from its dalliance with a socialist/communist coalition. Through the 1980s, Althusser endured a living death, still intellectually active but publishing little. His death in 1990 inaugurated a period of posthumous life as his copious notes and extracts were systematically retrieved and published. In English, Althusser was virtually non-existent in the 1980s. It was only the meticulous study by Gregory Elliott of 1987, sympathetic but non-partisan, that sustained Althusser's reputation. Aron produced his Mémoires in the year of his death, 1983. During the decade, some previously published and some previously unpublished works were released by Editions de Fallois. Aron's book on Clausewitz was published in England in 1983, communicating the last expression of Aron's lifetime interest in war and politics. Other texts were issued or reissued during the decade by American publishing houses, but there was only one further publication in England in which Aron was again represented as a sociologist in a collection edited by his sociologist daughter, Dominique Schnapper. For the first time there was awareness in England at the beginning of the 1980s of the scope and implications of Foucault's thought beyond the theoretical progression from structuralism through archaeology to genealogy that seemed to be apparent in the texts which had been published in English by Tavistock Publications and therefore indirectly associated with the anti-psychiatry movement. This awareness was achieved by the selection made by Colin Gordon, endorsed by Foucault, as Power/Knowledge (1980). Reviewing this selection for the New Statesman, Peter Dews announced that ‘with the break-up of the Althusserian orthodoxy on the theoretical Left in Britain, the work of Michel Foucault has begun to play a distinctive role. … Indeed the claim is now frequently made that Foucault's work represents a decisive advance over any form of Marxist analysis.’ However, the development in Foucault's thinking through the 1970s was mainly registered by the courses of lectures which he gave each year at the Collège de France and was, therefore, only accessible to a restricted audience. In spite of the continuing influence of Power/Knowledge which was optimistically seen to have been introducing the possibility of a new kind of radical politics, Foucault's thinking in the last few years before his death in 1984 became de-politicised in the old sense by his association with American philosophers. Foucault seemed, chameleon-like, to be able to present himself as a Heideggerian to Dreyfus or as a ‘spiritual’ thinker in the presence of Jesuits. Dreyfus and Rabinow dominated the mediation of Foucault for the English reader and Dreyfus's identification of an affinity between the work of late Foucault and that of late Heidegger was particularly awkward as it coincided with the Parisian debate about Heidegger which stimulated contributions from Bourdieu and Lyotard.

    For the first few years of the 1980s, Aron, Foucault and Bourdieu were all professors at the Collège de France, giving their public lectures. By the end of 1984, only Bourdieu was still alive, and only he and Lyotard were active. Lyotard followed La condition postmoderne (1979) with Le différend (1983), which crystallised the response to Kant's Critique of Judgement which he continued to elaborate during the rest of the decade, largely through involvement with the work of the Collège internationale de philosophie. Within this context, Lyotard tried to articulate and practise a form of philosophising which was different from academic philosophy, but the institution imposed some detachment from the public with which he wanted to relate. By the end of the decade he had turned away from Kant, reasserting his interest in aesthetic expression, and had begun to produce moral ‘fables’ as a way of actualising a political agenda which assumed that traditional politics were moribund. Bourdieu had similar problems with the institutional ‘capital’ of the Collège de France following his appointment there in 1981. His inaugural lecture showed his unease that he had achieved his academic status as a consequence of research and publications which had exposed the unmeritocratic processes by which individuals and institutions acquire distinction in society. His publications had all been based on empirical research but his position at the Collège gradually took him away from association with research in the Centre de Sociologie Européenne. La distinction (1979) had also lost him colleagues who thought that the work had betrayed working-class culture. During the second half of the 1980s, Bourdieu's international reputation developed rapidly as his work was translated into English and published mainly by Polity Press. He engaged in dialogue with American sociologists and philosophers and was disposed to see the establishment of communities of sociologists or intellectuals as one way to prevent the insidious growth of neo-liberal politics. Just as Lyotard turned to aesthetics to respond to the de-politicisation of politics, so Bourdieu turned to sociology both to confirm the de-politicisation of politics and to subject aesthetics to scrutiny. As we shall see, however, Bourdieu's sociology was a phenomenological sociology which had some affinity with the phenomenological origins of Lyotard's work.

    In the 1990s, Bourdieu concentrated increasingly in France on deploying sociological enquiry for political ends. The publication of La misère du monde (1993) coincided with Mitterrand's last (unsuccessful) presidential campaign. It was the outcome of a research enquiry, directed by Bourdieu, which juxtaposed the social perspectives of researching interviewers with those of the people who were their interviewees. The project was an exercise in corporate reflexivity and the publication constituted a documentary fable. Bourdieu's direct sociological involvement in social movements expressed itself in publications issued by his own publishing label and this ran parallel with his reflexive, increasingly auto-analytical, consideration of his own position and its origins in relation to the situations of others in society. The climax of Lyotard's aesthetico-political analyses was the publication of his surrogately auto-analytical autobiographical study of Malraux, published in 1996. This indirect study of political and cultural relations during his lifetime was effected through a concentration on the work of the novelist whose political influence Bourdieu had attacked in the 1960s. At the same time, Lyotard was assembling his supplement to Le différend which was published as La misère de la philosophie in 2000, two years after his death.

    The 1990s in France were marked by the process of retrieval of the work of Althusser, Foucault and, in a less systematic way, Aron. The year of 1994 marked the publication of the first volume of Althusser's Ecrits Philosophiques et Politiques as well as of the four-volume edition of Foucault's Dits et Ecrits, 1954–1988. With the exception of Foucault's lectures at the Collège de France, Dits et Ecrits, 1954–1988 was a definitive edition of his ‘minor’ works. The first volume of Ecrits Philosophiques et Politiques was followed by a second and by a sequence of collections of work retrieved from Althusser's archive. Through the decade there was also some retrieval, by Editions de Fallois, of Aron's early work. After the lifting of the embargo on the publication of Foucault's lectures at the Collège de France, these appeared in print, starting in 1997. The re-publication of the work of Aron stimulated little revaluation of his achievement in France or in England. Aron's Mémoires were published in English in 1990, with an introduction by Henry Kissinger, but there were no English retrievals of his texts. By contrast, the collections of the work of Althusser and Foucault were extensively plundered to produce themed selections in the case of Althusser and both ‘readers’ and the reproduction of the Collège lectures in the case of Foucault.

    Bourdieu died in 2002. Just as there does not appear to have been much attempt to revive the work of Lyotard posthumously, there is similarly no indication, for instance, that the lectures which Bourdieu gave at the Collège de France from 1982 until 2001 will receive the treatment provided for those given by Foucault. There may be a message here which relates to the nature of their projects as opposed to those of Aron, Althusser and Foucault.

    I have tried in these concluding remarks to summarise briefly the chronological progression of the production and reception of the works which has been given in more detail, separately, in the previous five chapters of this book. The account has been historical precisely so as to dissociate myself from any supposed intention to generate an ahistorical evaluation or critique of the achievements of the authors. The historical account has, however, hit the present, the moment of its own production, and I want to offer some final comments now about the relationship of these texts to our current context.

    Just as, in examining Democracy in America in the nineteenth century, Alexis de Tocqueville assumed that human civilisation was necessarily tending towards the actualisation of democratic social and political organisation, so we, in the West, assume that democratisation now entails equal and open participation of all in a process of collective self-government. The rhetoric of these assumptions is at odds with practice. Mass democracy remains compressed within the framework of bourgeois parliamentary representation which, in the eighteenth century, was taken to be the ideal manifestation of democratic, constitutional government. The rhetoric of change euphemises the continuing reality. As Boltanski and Chiapello have shown, the new spirit of capitalism has established itself by absorbing and neutralising the ‘1968’ critique of the old. The political party in Britain which in the 1970s denied the existence of ‘society’ now recommends, as its political policy, the cultivation of a big society as a means to diminishing the power of the state. De-politicisation has become the political slogan of those wishing to retain the political dominance which they assume is their birthright. The state is no longer to dictate mass education and, instead, a new laissez-faire attitude is to encourage popular entrepreneurialism – a rhetorically acceptable populism which ignores the ongoing reproduction of hierarchical power. These are some of the tendencies in the West and we assume that the system of government that we have attained must be the system to which all states aspire and the system which we must help to establish, by force, if required.

    The five authors considered in this book were party to this democratising process and, inasmuch as they held privileged positions in a society tending towards de-privilegisation, they were ambivalently participatory. Four of them were normaliens – students and graduates of the intellectually elitist École Normale Supérieure. All of them were trained in philosophy. Aron developed a philosophy of history which enabled him to see himself as a historian of his present. This stance was compatible with sociological analysis of present social reality but it involved him in journalistic and academic interest in political events rather than in social events as instruments for political change. The reality with which he related was the reality of international diplomacy and constitutional procedure. He engaged de haut en bas (looking down from an elevated height), as was clear in his attitude to the events of 1968. Althusser was early influenced by the vogue in his youth for Hegelian philosophy, but he quickly recognised that academic interpretation distorted Hegel's meaning, undermining its radical potential. His allegiance shifted towards Marx and he realised that in order to reveal Marx's true radicalism he had to detach Marxist analysis, as science, from the legacy of Hegelian philosophy. After 1948, this mission developed within the French Communist Party in opposition to what he took to be the humanist revisionism introduced after Stalin's death by Khrushchev. Althusser insisted that the development of Marxist thought and of his thought about Marx were properly caught in a nexus of political practice rather than detached speculation. He analysed the conjunctures of his thinking but the reality with which his thought engaged was a reality predefined by communist ideology. Until 1980, Althusser never left the École Normale Supérieure. He emphasised Marxist science against bourgeois, technological pseudo-sciences, such as sociology, but his abstract engagement was the product of his circumscribed institutional base and of an a priori concept of reality. After 1990, followers tried to revive a pre-Marxist Althusser by retrieving texts on Montesquieu and Machiavelli which seemed to be recommending an ‘aleatory materialism’ in preference to dialectical materialism, but, after 1989, the legacy of Eurocommunism seemed in decline and the conditions which might retrieve Althusser's relevance no longer existed. If Althusser was confined within a conceptual straitjacket which prevented him from relating to the people whose cause he advocated, Foucault was constantly rootless, and tried to make an intellectual virtue or normality out of this condition. In spite of Eribon's attempts to emphasise Foucault's occasional involvement with political campaigns or movements in France, there was always the sense that he was a bystander, in Sweden, Warsaw, Hamburg or Tunis; working at Clermont-Ferrand but living in Paris; ‘engaged’ at Vincennes while advancing his candidature for the Collège de France and, notably late in life, adopting California as his preferred place of residence. The editors of the courses of lectures delivered at the Collège de France insisted that he wanted the lectures and seminars to be ‘open sites’ for discussion and that he was constantly thwarted by the institutional arrangements which made this almost impossible, but it is difficult to resist the response that the large audiences were essentially middle class and that those present would hardly have been equipped to engage in dialogue about interpretations of arcane classical texts. I am not aware of any reflection on Foucault's part either about the social privilege which enabled him to bury himself in the archives of the Bibliothèque Nationale or about the social class identity of his audiences. Gordon argued that Foucault offered a blueprint for a form of post-1968 radicalism that could be cultivated away from picket lines and barricades, but the gradual appropriation of his texts by academic philosophers – mainly American philosophers helping to fill the gap in English culture created by the irrelevance of British analytic philosophy – has led, firstly, to the development of apolitical Foucauldianism among sectors of the English academic community and, secondly, to the resurgence of an anti-materialism consistent with the liberal tradition of English universities.

    The work of Bourdieu and Passeron in the 1960s was closely related – covertly – to the contemporary work of Althusser. My reading of the development of Bourdieu's thinking is that he emphasised what he had taken from Husserl to substitute a phenomenological critique of the social sciences for the Marxist critique provided by Althusser. Bourdieu's gradual articulation of a reflexive sociology and his deployment, like Althusser, of Bachelard's notion of epistemological ‘breaks’ to do so was, in fact, the re-statement of the orientation to sociology outlined as early as 1940 by Alfred Schütz in his contribution – entitled ‘Phenomenology and Social Sciences’ – to the first post mortem collection of essays on Husserl, edited by Marvin Farber, entitled Philosophical Essays in Memory of Edmund Husserl. This meant that Bourdieu had, in his Algerian fieldwork, regarded his research as a social and political act, an intervention, and that he began to retrieve this orientation after a decade – the 1960s – in which he had been appearing to be a sociologist operating, as Husserl would express it, within the ‘natural’ attitude rather than from a base within the primary life-world. Bourdieu's books were meant to be accounts of his research interventions rather than accounts of findings to be consumed within the academic field of sociology. As such, in spite of operating from the Collège de France, Bourdieu believed that his ‘open site’ was not a privileged social sphere but a social dialogue effected through research and expressed in a reflexive way which subjected the site itself to scrutiny.

    My fear is that the phenomenological basis of Bourdieu's position is in danger of being suppressed in the interest of the deployment of his texts either to supply ready-made instruments for sociological research within a self-referential sociological community or for an a-philosophical advocacy of political activism. There is this second danger because Bourdieu's affinity with the work of Husserl never eclipsed his commitment to the kind of social reform embodied in the organisations of the Third Republic and its underpinning in the work of Durkheim. Bourdieu's posthumously published auto-analysis shows that this commitment was deeply entrenched emotionally as a result of his father's views, but the consequence was that Bourdieu's sociological orientation was, in Aron's terms, always ‘sociologistic’. This orientation constituted, therefore, a ‘grand narrative’. Although Lyotard demonstrated an early attachment to the work of Husserl in his La Phénoménologie of 1954, and prescribed in that book a phenomenological social science not unlike that indicated by Schütz, he did not follow the same phenomenological route as Bourdieu in expressing his dissatisfaction with Communist Party politics and Althusserian Marxism. Engagement, in terms of content, through dialogue with Kant, leading to the elaboration of the ‘differend’ and the need for ‘dissensus’, which took place within the Collège internationale de philosophie, gradually emerged as fables or factions within a public sphere. This was textual dialogue corresponding with the verbal dialogue desired by Foucault. It operated as philosophical literature without wanting to allow for any sociological exploration of the context of its production.

    It should be clear that my recommendation is that we should derive from my historical exploration of the work of five authors a view that the future realisation of a mass democracy grounded in the inter-subjectivity of the life-world is dependent on an amalgamation of the legacies of Bourdieu and Lyotard such that we can exchange small narratives in a way which appreciates the social conditions of production of those narratives but not in a way which absorbs the exchange into a pre-defined teleology. This means that my book is my small narrative about the issues discussed. In On Bourdieu, Education and Society of 2006 I tried, in a long first part, to record the social conditions of my primary experience which had seemed to generate an ‘elective affinity’ with the work of Bourdieu. This book is an invitation to readers to produce their own small narratives of response and to consider these reflexively as contributions to socio-analytic encounter in a mass democracy rather than as contributions to ‘social theory’ as it is, with difficulty, preserved by diminishing numbers of academics.

    Notes

    1 See Richard Nice's definition of ‘méconnaissance’ in his ‘Translator's note’ in Bourdieu and Passeron (1977, xiii): ‘“méconnaissance”, the process whereby power relations are perceived not for what they objectively are but in a form which renders them legitimate in the eyes of the beholder’.

    2 In my Introduction to the special issue of Theory, Culture & Society devoted to the work of Bourdieu (Robbins, 2006a).

    3 From the Greek verb, meaning to serve as a midwife.

    4 In ‘D'une Sainte Famille à l'autre: Essais sur les marxismes imaginaires’ (Aron, 1969).

    5 This took place in 1967 in a radio discussion and was published after the deaths of both men, in 2007 – see Chapter 3.

    6 A full account of these is given in Callewaert (2006).

    References
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    Bourdieu, P. (1966) ‘Champ intellectuel et projet créateur’, Les temps modernes, 246 (November): 865–906.
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    Bourdieu, P., Boltanski, L. and de Saint Martin, M. (1977) ‘Changes in Social Structure and Changes in the Demand for Education’, in S.Giner and M.S.Archer (eds) Contemporary Europe. Social Structures and Cultural Patterns. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. pp. 197–227.
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